School: The Mary Erskine School, Edinburgh
One day, I found a psychological sinkhole outside my bedroom door.
"Hello," smirked the sinkhole. "I've come to ruin your day."
With a rising sense of dread, I heard my phone give a buzz from my bedside table.
3%, it read. Please plug in your phone soon.
Don't forget English assignment!
I stared at my dangling cable and my half-written essay.
I glanced back at the sinkhole. Noticing me again, it gave me a smug look.
"Don't try switching on your Be Happy playlist either." It chuckled. "I... dealt with the router last night."
It started whistling a high-pitched folk melody, if you could call it that - though I'm still, to this day, not sure how a sinkhole can whistle.
This was enough. Grabbing my belt, I gave it a firm kick with the sole of my foot, before doing nothing short of whipping it mercilessly. But it was only when I felt the cold metal of the buckle on my shin did I realise that it had slipped round to my back in time to watch my mum stick her head upstairs to see me, furious, naked, holding my belt in my left hand, with a large weal on my right leg. She stared for a second, before putting her "mum face" on.
"Alex, what are you doing? Get ready for school! You're running late already."
I opened my mouth to speak, but she had already disappeared. Trudging back into my room, I saw my sudden lack of a deodorant. My look of horror as I realised I had PE first thing must have amused the sinkhole, as it burst out laughing.
"What's so funny, midget?" I tried to say in my tough-kid voice, but I think it came out as more of a rasp.
"Your face!" it said, between snickers. "I should have taken a photo of it!" It paused for dramatic effect. "But, oh wait, your phone's out of battery, isn't it? I suppose you could use that digital camera Dad promised to get you last Christmas... The one that he never bought..."
Thankfully, it left me in peace to get changed.
Coming downstairs, my mum did nothing more than acknowledge my existence before nodding towards the toaster, where two blackened crisps of bread lay. The sinkhole grinned.
"Five minutes for breakfast... Unless you eat that at the bus stop, I suppose?"
For once, it seemed to have useful information, and I did as it said. I shouldn't have been so naïve.
As the sinkhole and I sidled up to my stop, Clover and Stacey both said a brief hello, but on noticed the smouldering remains of carbohydrate in my hand, shuffled to the other end of the seat. Giving each other a smirk, they made an exaggerated sniff and exchanged a glance. The awkward silence between the three of us only amplified the sounds of crunching and chewing emanating from my mouth. The bus journey continued in much the same vibe - my day couldn't get any worse. But it seemed like it would never get better.
Stepping into my form class, my friends instantly saw what was wrong. They hugged me, and told corny jokes, and let me copy their English essays. They told me that the sinkhole visited every one of them, and that no matter what happened, they would be there for me. In the corner, the sinkhole began wailing and screaming, and withering into a little crack in the wall. No one would ever notice it again.
The sinkholes have come for me many times now, but every time, I've known what to do. And every time, it's worked.